I live in the metro New York area, and usually am in the car by myself. We have one child, who is 7 years old. My wife and I are both under 5'8" tall. I think the Lexus cannot be beaten for the money. It handles very well (although I have not had the opportunity to test it in the snow), and handles much better in the rain than my 2002 Audi A4 did. The conveniences in the car are wonderful, and a BMW with a comparable feature set was about 20% more. We live in a very hilly area, I spend less than 1/2 of my time on highways, and we are getting about 24 MPG overall. This is similar to what I got on my Audi A4.
Bluetooth and MP3 player integration, AWD, sound system, headlights.
I would like it if the steering wheel telescoped inwards a bit further. The leg room for my daughter in the back is adequate, but not great. I don't know if it would even be adequate for her if I was 6 foot tall or more. Would like it if the back seat folded down. More storage space in the front.
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